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Choose Your Fellow Short Story Writers Wisely… Or Else

We’re up to Writing Rule #10, which might be short story-centric but is still a big milestone for 2017. Clearly.

Silliness aside, this really can change your writing career. If you handle it right.

Here’s what I mean…

Yesterday, I challenged you to write a short story even if the idea of keeping your thoughts so succinct felt slightly overwhelming – or underwhelming. And today’s writing rule contains a challenge as well when you read between the lines:

Here’s the copy as posted on Facebook:

Short stories alone don’t sell very well. The best way to profitably promote them is to publish an anthology: i.e., a collection of them.

If you have enough short stories to fill a respectably sized book, then feel free to do this all by yourself. Otherwise, get a group of other short-story writers together who can add to the anthology.

Sounds like a fun idea, right?

Under the right conditions, it can be. But more importantly, it can also be beneficial to you as a writer, building up your name recognition and confidence levels.

One of the great things about publishing an anthology of short stories is that you get to officially call yourself a published author after it’s all said and done. It doesn’t matter if you wrote every piece of content in a book or only took up one chapter. If you actively and knowingly contributed your stated words to a published work that could conceivably feature your name on the front cover, then you’re an author.

Now, if all you ever wanted to do was publish a short story or stories, then this is it for you. Congratulations!

And if you’re aiming to be a novelist, then it can serve as a great stepping stone to bigger things.

A word of caution though for anyone who isn’t a natural short story writer and therefore would want to work with a group on an anthology:

It’s not always the easiest of tasks.

I’m not saying it’s hopeless or that you shouldn’t bother trying. But forewarned is forearmed, so here’s what you need to know before you ask a group of authors to collaborate on anything writing-related…

When it comes to their words, writers are neurotic pains in the neck. As a writer yourself, you should automatically understand this. But just in case you’re one of the exceptionally rare ones who are non-neurotic pains in the neck, let me break it down for you.

The vast majority of us worry about our exact word choices and their synonyms and implications and context. We agonize over whether we’re coming across intelligently and understandably and evocatively. And we have this crushing fear of typos… that we’ll make some kind of really stupid, really obvious, really embarrassing mistake that we’ll miss until it’s too late to do anything but suffer reoccurring nightmares about.

How neurotic are writers? When writing the paragraph above, I stopped about halfway and read over what I’d put down, only to find that I’d used the word “about” twice in two sentences. Instead of being happy that I’d caught that instance of unnecessary repetition, I started dwelling on all the times I haven’t caught them.

And I’m one of the more sane writers out there, as evidenced by the fact that I didn’t have a full-out emotional meltdown or crisis of confidence over finding such blatant proof that I’m capable of making editorial mistakes.

At this point, you might be acknowledging that, yes, all that sounds neurotic enough; but where does the pain-in-the-neck part come in?

To which I’ll ask you one question: Can you imagine working with a whole entire group of such people?

I rest my case.

There’s also the issue that writers, like everyone else out there, run the risk of procrastinating. So if you give them a deadline of two months – a very reasonable deadline for a short story, I would think – they’ll be asking you two days before if they can have one more week because “life just got out of hand” or “I’m sorry, but I’ve just been so busy.”

If you ever had to work on a group assignment in school or at work, you already know how it goes.

So before you decide to get into short-story-anthology bed with other writers, consider your options wisely and try to select the least neurotic, most reliable writers possible.

As previously published anthologies have shown, it can be done. Neurotic pain in the necks and all.


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